Our new vision statement: why should you care?

Stephanie Urchick

By Stephanie A. Urchick, chair of Rotary’s Strategic Planning Committee

We are now more than a year into the process of revisiting Rotary’s strategic plan, a process that will allow us to examine our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in order to move the organization in a direction that will allow Rotary to thrive in the years ahead. Our new vision statement is the first lap in that three-year journey.

You may have seen the vision statement and wondered what its relevance is to you. If Rotary were a ship approaching land, our new vision statement would be the lighthouse that keeps us from running aground. Our vision statement explains what we want to achieve, in the same way that our mission statement explains our focus, and our strategic plan represents how we are going to get there.

Strategic planning is a process, not an event. And it is certainly not limited to activity conducted in the board room. Almost 30,000 Rotarians, Rotaractors, and alumni participated in the 2017 triennial strategic planning survey sent out last January. Our strategy office and our consultant partner, Grant Thornton, then conducted countless focus groups, in-depth interviews, and discussions with Rotarians, non-Rotarians, Rotary leaders, alumni, Rotaractors, and others to gather more insight. Over the course of all these sessions, more than one million individuals had an opportunity to provide input.

Out of these focus groups, different elements emerged that were then tested around the world to be sure they were culturally appropriate to both a Rotarian and non-Rotarian audience. These elements became our 24-word vision statement.

“Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

President-elect Barry Rassin did a masterful job of unpacking the vision statement to incoming district governors and other leaders at the 2018 International Assembly in January. More and more leaders and members are having a chance to see and hear the vision statement and think about how these words reflect the impact we wish to have on the world.

Entering the second year of the process, we will begin to test “priority concepts” that will move Rotary toward our vision statement. These concepts are being tested in every part of the world through additional focus groups, to ensure these concepts resonate in all geographies, all languages, and all cultures. In the third year, the rubber will hit the road. Strategies and tactics will be created and approved, and districts and clubs will be asked to try them and give us feedback.

Why is all this important? Let’s look at Amazon, a great example of the power of strategic planning. Amazon was the very first company to endorse free shipping. Amazon, researchers have noted, rose to power not by inventing a new product or service, but by analyzing the entire industry and making multiple moves into the future, much like a chess game.

Our three year-process allows for many checkpoints along the way to determine if we are still on the right track, if external or internal aspects have changed, and if a response to these changes requires altering our trajectory. When the strategic plan finally rolls out two years from now, there will be more than one million people who — because they had input — can say, “I helped shape that plan.”

What would we like you to do? Share the vision statement with your fellow club members. Think about what it means to your club. And look for opportunities to give your input into our strategic planning process. Help us chart a course for taking action to create lasting change.

25 thoughts on “Our new vision statement: why should you care?

  1. This vision statement sure is vague — What kind of “Change” is it referring? Some change is good but other change is cancerous. As a long time Rotarian, I am concerned with how this vision will be interpreted.


    • Consider finding the lasting change we need and want through the Rotary principles — the Rotarian Code of Conduct and The Four-Way Test. Then consider what area of focus fits your situation. For me, it’s Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention. I think we Rotarians would want to prevent wars, such as nuclear war the existential threat to our civilization.
      Think Big. Be Bold. Save Lives.
      For Peace. I am a Rotarian for a world free of nuclear weapons by 2030.


  2. Thank you Stephanie for the communication of such vision statement.
    Thanks to all for your comments that allow me to learn a lot on the opinions of Rotarians, as aspirant that I am.


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  4. The challenge is that change can also be negative. I think that what we hope to create is positive change, which may be incremental, iterative and constantly evolving, rather than lasting. Of course there will still be disagreement about what change is positive – but the concept aligns with our established purpose of ‘doing good in the world’.


  5. I hope we are not abandoning The Object Of Rotary that has guided our organization for over a century. The object has been further refined by well established Avenues of Service definitions. I am also bothered by the use of the worn out catch phrase “create lasting change” and must ask what “lasting change” are we trying to create? I agree with those who have observed that Rotary should lighten up and become a little less “corporate”.


  6. My concern is whether this Vision Statement is being imposed on Rotary rather than created by Rotarians. Here’s some poissible evidence of that taken from Stephanie’s post: after surveying “almost 30,000 Rotarians, Rotaractors, and alumni”, “more than one million individuals had an opportunity to provide input.” There are 1.2 million Rotarians around the world. I don’t recall having been asked for my input, nor do I recall any of my fellow Rotarians mentioning this, nor did I see a booth at the House of Friendship in Atlanta soliciting my thoughts. So how many of the “more than one million individuals” are Rotarians, alumni, or Rotaractors?

    We have the four-way test that is unique to Rotary. (As an aside, is it coincidental that the new Vision Statement has 24 words, just like the four-way test?) We have six areas of focus that are also unique to Rotary. We have the Object of Rotary, which is again unique to Rotary. What makes the Vision Statement unique to Rotary?

    At the RI Convention, we often sing “Let There be Peace on Earth.” Is it too late to amend the Vision Statement to include peace?


  7. For me the vision statement is vague and uninspiring. It makes no reference to our principal causes – the areas of change = areas of focus. Peace is one of multiple omissions. Very disappointing for me. Not something that captures the heart and minds.
    Something like this would satisfy my definition of a vision- a picture of the world as we would like it to be. How about:
    “A family of nations where every community is free from hunger and thirst and disease, literate, and at peace within itself, with its neighbors and the world.”


  8. Visions are futuristic, and tends to position our focus.
    Lasting “Change” in all we do is very key, not just on “Peace”.
    Recognizing the fact that as we do this in our communities and across the globe, we equally need it ourselves will make us get fully involved.
    Thank you Rotary.


  9. With this Vision statement We serve the Community better & better with strategic planning & with aim in our mind.
    All together we will Definitely create beautiful World.
    Proud to be part of Great Rotary Family.


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  11. How does a vision statement differ from the Object of Rotary which is shared with us each month in The Rotarian? The Object of Rotary is as important to our understanding of the Ideal of Service as is the Four Way Test in the governance of our ethical behavior. The Object of Rotary, despite the antiquated word structure, provides us with a better sense of what we are about as Rotarians than the new vision statement.


  12. We care for ourselves , our familyour nation to build humanity satisfaction and better thought processing for thr happiness around the Global.
    वसुदेवकुटुंबकम् !


  13. Stephanie,
    I am deeply saddened that you feel it proper to omit even the consideration of the word Peace totally from Rotary’s new vision statement. Unfortunately, the omission itself speaks volumes to me about Rotary’s future vision, direction and priorities.


    • Michael … what if we added five words … for a culture of peace.

      “Together. we see a world where people unite and take action to create change — across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves — for a culture of peace.

      A Culture of Peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations.
      UN Resolution


  14. Why and how does this new vision statement differentiate Rotary from other entities whose mission is also to improve people’s quality of life?
    In a currently divided world, what is Rotary’s solution for a “world where people unite”?
    How did this vision statement test among the millennial generation?


  15. Who reads “Vision ” statements except those who write them and the boss, let alone pay attention to them? They are for outsiders to make the “company” look good. Bob Shoemaker PRID Sorry but that is the way it is.

    [image: Related image][image: Rotary’s Brand Center]


    • Yes, I agree with you ….because most vision statement are poorly written.
      Yet, Rotary and Rotarian could benefit from a clear and actionable vision statement.
      Then at times we forget what we have already … such as our Rotarian Code of Conduct … our commitment for a better life across the globe, in our community and in ourselves.
      AS A ROTARIAN, I will
      1) Act with integrity and high ethical standards in my personal and professional life
      2) Deal fairly with others and treat them and their occupations with respect
      3) Use my professional skills through Rotary to: mentor young people, help those with special needs, and improve people’s quality of life in my community and in th world.
      4) Avoid behavior that reflects adversely on Rotary or other Rotarians.


    • I could not agree with you less. Visionaries and the success they bring to leading organizations is so clearly misunderstood by Rotary and the majority of top leadership that our future is under threat. Having said that, I think our new vision statement is very poorly put together and does not meet the requirements of such statements. How can our areas of focus we completely ignored? How can a clear mission statement and strategic plan cascade down from something so vague and meaningless?


  16. Stephanie, thank you for your communique. When I read the vision statement for the first time I immediately stumbled on the word “change”…..What does that mean?, I asked myself…climate change, nuclear holocaust and human annihilation? My second thought was that this feels auspiciously like a management consultant product vs. an internal gut check vision statement. We must write our own so my suggestion is to replace the word “change” with the word “peace” and then watch Rotary grow around the world….lasting peace is what everyone on the planet longs for.


    • I thought “lasting change” was an oxymoron even as I hope for a much faster pace in getting women and millennials in leadership roles in RI and TRF.
      Rotary clubs are always changing based on local conditions, be it member interest and/or community needs.

      Vision statements are hard to do. Perhaps it’s time to lighten up and be less corporate and more human.
      For your consideration, here is my personal vision statement …
      Do Good. Feel Good. Have Fun.


  17. Excellent and well thought out Vision Statement.
    Now we begin charting an action oriented course to create
    meaningful change in our communities and in ourselves


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